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Californians are fed up with outdated money grubbing US electricity companies

by on15 March 2022

Buying their own solar power

Power blackouts and rising electricity costs have inspired "a small but growing number of Californians" to leave the power grid altogether for their own home-generated energy.

A "stunning drop" in the cost of solar panels and batteries, and a rather large abundance of sun, some homeowners who have built new, off-grid homes say they have even saved money because their systems were cheaper than securing a new utility connection.

Nobody is quite sure how many off-grid homes there are but local officials and real estate agents said there were dozens here in Nevada County, a picturesque part of the Sierra Nevada range between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Some energy experts say that millions of people could eventually go off the grid as costs drop.

Some of those going off the grid argue that utilities are not moving fast enough to address climate change and are causing other problems. In Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric's safety record has alienated many residents. The company's equipment caused the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed dozens and destroyed the town of Paradise, about 70 miles north of Nevada City.

The utility's effort to prevent fires by cutting off power to homes and businesses has also angered people.

The appeal of off-grid homes has grown in part because US utilities have become less reliable even as their charges have increased.

As natural disasters linked to climate change have increased, there have been more extended blackouts in California, Texas, Louisiana and other states.

Installing off-grid solar and battery systems is expensive, but once the systems are up and running, they typically require modest maintenance and homeowners no longer have an electric bill.

The Rocky Mountain Institute has projected that by 2031 most California homeowners will save money by going off the grid as solar and battery costs fall and utility rates increase. That phenomenon will increasingly play out in less sunny regions like the Northeast over the following decades, the group forecasts....

Off-grid systems are particularly attractive to people building new homes. That's because installing a 125- to 300-foot overhead power line to a new home costs about $20,000. In places where lines have to be buried, the installation runs about $78,000 for 100 feet.


Last modified on 15 March 2022
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